Just published by Gingko Press, Paper Play is a new 256-page book exploring the use of paper in contemporary art and design. The book features no less than 82 designers and artists who use paper in sculptures, jewelry, street art, installations and everything else you can imagine. I started listing out all the artists we’ve featured here on the Colossal who are included in the book, but it got a bit unwieldy after a dozen. Pick it up here.
Canadian design collective Daily Tous Les Jours (previously) was recently invited to bring their fantastic musical light swing installation to the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado. The interactive swing set titled simply, The Swings, is comprised of illuminated panels that also trigger audible tones that harmonize as people swing. As more and more people join in the act of swinging turns into randomly improvised melody and light show. From their project site:
The Swings allow participants to make music with their entire bodies, to connect to one another and to have a sense of ownership of public space due to the music they create. The result is a giant collective instrument that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds. The project offers a new experience in collective music making, available to enliven urban spaces, festivals, special events, and more.
The Swings were on view through July 11th of this month, but the entire installation is now on tour. If you’re interested in bringing it to your own arts event, get in touch at the bottom of this page.
Using 600 poles of bamboo and 70 radiata pine logs all harvested locally, Taiwanese Artist Wang Wen-Chih created a massive installation that served as the entrance to the Woodford Folk Festival in Australia. Working with the Sydney-based architecture and design collective Cave Urban, a team of 40 workers and volunteers spent 3 weeks building the structure. Each bamboo pole was split into 4-5 pieces and weaved together like a basket. Woven Sky, which rises 15m high and is 100m long, was completed late last year, just in time for the music festival, and served an impressive entrance point into the amphitheater stage.
For a major retrospective of Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld, the team at Studio Wieki Somers collaborated with chocolatier Rafael Mutter to create Chocolate Mill. The piece was comprised of a giant cylindrical chocolate block that was carefully organized in 10 stacked layers, with flavored shapes used to create different geometric patterns. As a crank-turned blade similar to a cheese slicer grazed shavings off the top, the hidden layers were slowly revealed. You can watch a timelapse of the piece in the video above. (via Designboom, Design You Trust)
In a novel intersection of fashion and science, New York-based Slow Factory is utilizing imagery from NASA to create lines of translucent scarves. Their most recent collection, Cities by Night, is a series scarves imprinted with imagery of London, New York, and Paris captured at night from satellites and aboard the International Space Station. A second collection, Floating in Space, includes several breathtaking photographs of various nebulae captured by the Hubble. Slow Factory was founded by designer Celine Semaan Vernon, a native of Beirut who now lives and works in New York City. Several of their pieces are now available in the Colossal Shop.
Last week Japanese botanic artist Makoto Azuma attempted to go where most artists only dream of going: to space. In a project titled Exbiotanica, last week Azuma and his crew traveled to Black Rock Desert outside Gerlach, Nevada. In the dead of night Azuma’s project began. The team launched two of Azuma’s artworks – a 50-year old pine suspended from a metal frame and an arrangement of flowers – into the stratosphere using a large helium balloon. The entire project was documented, revealing some surreal photographs of plants floating above planet earth. “The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us,” says John Powell of JP Aerospace. “So seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it.” (syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)
Back in 2012 we featured a brief video about a small automaton that could almost perfectly mimic the song of a bird. Using mechanics similar to a clock, the fully automated wind-up device sucks air into a small bellows and forces it through a tiny whistle that sounds exactly like a singing bird. What my non-automata-knowledge-having-self didn’t realize at the time was that the century-old gadget was just one part of a much more intricate miniature automaton called a singing bird box.
The invention of singing bird boxes is attributed to Swiss-born watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz who also played a significant role in the creation of The Writer, a programmable automaton of a writing boy that recently inspired the movie Hugo. The basic device includes the bellows mechanism mentioned above along with a fully articulated bird with a moving beak, rotating head, and flapping wings. Several 18th and 19th century watchmakers including Jacob Frisard, Frères Rochat, and Charles Bruguier, were inspired by Jaquet-Droz’s to create their own opulent variations of singing bird boxes which are highly prized by collectors today. Variations include cigar holders, singing bird guns, and jewelry/makeup boxes.
One fantastic source of many antique bird boxes is London-based Douglas Fisher Antique Automata who carefully films almost all of their devices and makes them available on their YouTube channel. Included here are a few of my favorites, and you can also watch a number of fantastic technical videos about singing bird boxes filmed by Troy Duncan. (via The Presurfer)